Bruins’ Charlie Coyle: One Year Later

( Photo Credit: Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow Me On Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The 2020 trade deadline has come to a close, but since Bruins GM Don Sweeney took over in 2015, it is a no-brainer picking out the best deal he has made before any deadline; the Charlie Coyle trade. At the time, it may have seemed like an underwhelming trade, especially with giving up a promising prospect, but looking back one year later, Coyle has exceeded expectations and is now the future of the Bruins offense. 

Welcome Home Charlie

Charlie Coyle, the 6’3 200-pound forward, was acquired in 2019 from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Ryan Donato and a conditional 5th round pick. Fans were reluctant to the trade at first and rightfully so, as Donato appeared to be the Bruins’ most promising prospect during the 2017-2018 season when he played in his first 12 NHL games, quickly racking up five goals and nine points with a +2 rating. The following 2018-2019 season, though, Donato struggled to find the magic he had in his first dozen NHL games, scoring only six goals and nine points with a -11 rating in 34 games played. The Donato experiment then ended, sending Coyle back home to his native state. After his impressive playoff performance, the Bruins rewarded Coyle with a six-year contract extension worth $5.25M a season.

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2019 Playoff Clutch

When Charlie Coyle arrived in Boston, there were many expectations and unfortunately, was off to a sluggish start with the Bruins, only producing 2 goals and 6 points with a -2 rating through 21 games played. Then the 2019 playoffs commenced, and his point production skyrocketed as he tallied nine goals and 16 points with a +8 rating through 24 playoff games. In those 24 games played, he also had an astounding shot percentage of 23.1%.

The Weymouth native lived his childhood dream moment in TD Garden when he scored the overtime winner in game one against the Columbus Blue Jackets. When it mattered most, Coyle stepped up and found ways to help his team win games, which lead the Bruins to a game seven in the Stanley Cup Finals.

One Year Later

So far this season, Coyle has racked up 15 goals and 34 points with a +9 rating in 64 games played. For the majority of the season, he has had Anders Bjork on his left-wing, establishing chemistry between the two players has strengthened the 3rd line and improved the Bruins scoring depth. Coyle is an extremely versatile player that plays a strong two-way game, serves a role on the second power-play unit, and is very effective on the penalty kill.

Coyle is a valuable piece to the Bruins penalty kill, which currently ranks 3rd in the NHL at 84.0%. With Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron usually leading the pack in shorthanded offense, Coyle has taken advantage when being a man-down and currently leads the Bruins’ with two shorthanded goals already this season. Coyle also has 8 takeaways on the kill this season, tying his career-high from 2017-2018.

 

Charlie Coyle is not only a productive player but provides leadership to the team as well and is currently one of the assistant captains on the Bruins. He generates a huge spark to this team and will be ready to help lead the Boston Bruins back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

The Bruins’ Top-Six: Best Deadline Transactions

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

Black N Gold Hockey Podcast website is proud to announce a new, recurring series in the rotation of entertaining articles: The Bruins’ Top Six.  In honor of the passing of the 2020 NHL trade deadline, the inaugural listing will be on the Bruins’ best Trade Deadline acquisitions of all time.

As part of the NHL’s “Original Six,” the Boston Bruins organization has a long and storied past. The hockey club has been in operation since 1924 and has participated in over 6,500 regular-season games, earning post-season appearances in 72 of those years. The crew went through all recorded trades that the Bruins participated in thanks to documentation by NHL Trade Tracker to pick the best and most influential Trade Deadline transactions made by the club. First things first, the trade must have occurred within six weeks of the NHL trade deadline of that year so readers will not find big trades such as the one that brought Cam Neely to Beantown.

6.) Dennis Seidenberg Poached from Florida

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 401, G – 23, Pts – 117, +/- 54 (GP – 50, G – 2, Pts – 15, +/- 14)

The Bruins acquired Dennis Seidenberg before the Trade Deadline in 2010 from the Florida Panthers along with Matt Bartkowski for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and the Bruins’ second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Following the 2004 – 2005 lockout season, Seidenberg became an NHL full-timer with the Philadelphia Flyers.

A bit of a journeyman, he played for three teams in the span of five seasons due to various trades. Seidenberg was seen as a defenseman who would help better balance the D-corps by playing with Zdeno Chara on the right side of the rink. Matt Bartkowski ultimately failed to grab a spot with the Bruins and none of Bitz, Weller or 36th overall pick in the 2010 draft and current Providence Bruin, Alex Petrovic played any meaningful minutes for Florida.

Seidenberg played 17 games in that first season but was injured and missed the entirety of the playoffs which featured the historic collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers. The following season, Seidenberg became a household name in New England as he notched career highs in all offensive categories and helped lead the B’s back-end during the run to the Stanley Cup by logging 27:38 minutes of ice-time over all of the Bruins’ 25 games.

Behind only Chara, Seidenberg’s ice-time trailed the Captain by a mere second per game. The trade locked in one of the key pieces to the championship team in 2011. He also scored at least one goal from center ice three seasons, so that alone should get him into the top-six.

5.) Local Boys Swapped in Deal for Charlie Coyle

( Photo Credit: YouTube )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 84, G – 17, Pts – 40, +/- 32 (GP – 24, G – 9, Pts – 16, +/- 8)

The B’s flipped promising forward Ryan Donato and a conditional pick that ultimately became a fourth-round selection in the 2019 Entry Draft to the Minnesota Wild for center and East Weymouth native Charlie Coyle. Originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks 28th overall in 2010, Coyle was the Wild’s centerpiece in the trade for Brent Burns in the 2011 off-season. Coyle broke into the league during the 2012 – 2013 season while splitting time between the NHL and AHL and never looked back the following year as he proved himself an NHL regular.

Donato came out of the gate quickly for Minnesota but has since shown the same defensive and effort related issues that plagued him in Boston. The pick in the deal was exchanged to Carolina in order to help Minnesota move up to the second round so that they could draft Hunter Jones, a goalie prospect in the Ontario Hockey League.

Since the trade, Coyle has proven to be a versatile top-nine forward that helped the cement the Bruins’ depth chart up the middle of the ice.  He has played spot time at wing in various line combinations. Despite an underwhelming early tenure that saw him post two goals, six points and a minus two rating, Coyle turned it in on in the 2019 playoffs scoring some big goals, particularly in the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, ultimately potting nine tallies that were tied for most on the team.

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Coyle is a serviceable player and seen as a stop-gap in Boston, evidenced by his five-year contract extension that will see him in the Black n’ Gold until 2026. He will help man the middle lane for the foreseeable future, as the Bruins transition from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to players like Jack Studnicka and John Beecher.

4.) Ray Bourque Given a Chance to Win

( Photo Credit: Globe Staff Lane Turner )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 1,518, G – 395, Pts – 1,506, +/- 493 (GP – 180, G – 36, Pts – 161, +/- 14)

All-time great Ray Bourque was mercifully traded to the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche from a wallowing Bruins team that he dragged to mediocrity along with Dave Andreychuk for Martin Grenier, Samuel Pahlsson, Brian Rolston and a pick that eventually become Martin Samuelsson.

Grenier and Samuelsson never really put it together in the NHL, Pahlsson was jettisoned by B’s management in the first season of the millennium to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks where he helped the franchise capture an NHL title in 2007, Rolston carved out a solid career but left the Bruins following the lockout, save for a brief reunion in the 2011 -2012 season. On the other side of the ledger, Andreychuk left Colorado following the 2000 playoffs and Bourque led the star-studded roster to a Championship in 2001.

This trade entered the annals of folk-legend, in part because it exemplified a management team trying to find a way to get a long-time and faithful soldier to the promise land as repayment for years of loyalty and dedication while the organization continuously failed to put contending pieces together. The Bruins limited themselves to the best of the NHL teams of the time and took a below market-value return to make the move happen. The gesture would become synonymous with the relationships that management and core players develop in the Bruins organization even through the present day.

3.) Fresh Start for Adam Oates

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 368, G – 142, Pts – 499, +/- 22 (GP – 42, G – 11, Pts – 48, +/- -18)

Following a contract dispute between the St. Louis Blues and star center Adam Oates related to perceived discrepancies in pay, Blues management offloaded the disgruntled Oates in exchange for Boston’s Craig Janney and Stephane Quintal. Before the trade, Oates had been a key cog in the Blues’ offensive machine for two seasons, helping Brett Hull to Rocket Richard awards in both years.

Despite the reports of Oates’ malcontent demeanor, the Bruins acquired him to help provide offensive pop and complement stars like Cam Neely and Bourque. Janney established himself as an above-average playmaker as he bounced around the league and Quintal ultimately played a stay-at-home role in more than 1,000 regular-season contests with six different teams.

In each season Oates was with the team, the Bruins made the playoffs despite Neely’s injury-plagued decline in the first half of the 1990s. He led the league in assists during the season in which he racked up his career-high in points with 97 and 142 respectively. Oates signed a lucrative deal with the Bruins, but again felt he was underpaid.

When his contemptuous dealings with B’s brass began, they elected to rid themselves of the headache and traded him to the Washington Capitals during the ’96 – ’97 season. Oates was a star in his own right and a 21-time nominee for the Lady Byng award, but his relationship with management, in general, was anything but gentlemanly. This served only to leave a blemish on the talented forward’s legacy.

2.) Carol Vadnais Reinforces Big Bad Blue-Line

( Photo Credit: NESN.com )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 263, G – 47, Pts – 181, +/- 67 (GP – 39, G – two, Pts – 21, +/- 12)

Prior to the 1972 playoffs, the Bruins determined that they would need additional depth on their blue-line behind their top pair of Bobby Orr and Dallas Smith. The club entered and won a bidding war with the Montreal Canadiens for the right to acquire the California Golden Seals’ Carol Vadnais and Don O’Donoghue in exchange for forward Reggie Leach and defensemen Rick Smith and Bob Stewart.

Vadnais would anchor the B’s second pair for the rest of that season and support a successful cup run during the year. He would play another solid three years and change until he was traded to the New York Rangers in 1975. Smith and Stewart fell to relative obscurity and Leach became a star forward in the National Hockey League, although with the Philadelphia Flyers after his time with the Golden Seals.

Since the trade dealt a future prolific scorer in Leach for an understated defenseman, its sometimes considered a poor one for the B’s. This is with the luxury of hindsight and retrospect. Vadnais, who passed away in 2014, was a steady presence on the Bruins blue-line for a team with eight 20-plus goal-scoring forwards that wanted to win now and had a need elsewhere on the roster. Pundits like to talk about which team won a particular deal, but at the heart of every hockey trade, both teams ought to be winning.

Although the Seals wouldn’t hold on to the asset, one of the futures they dealt for did turn out and the Bruins received the support they desired for the playoffs. In this regard, Vadnais represents a near-perfect deadline acquisition; he was meant to bolster the back end for a playoff run that culminated in a Cup win. He did just that and even stuck around for a few years after.

1.) Mentorship and Experience in Mark Recchi

( Photo Credit: ICON SMI )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 180, G – 42, Pts – 107, +/- 14 (GP – 49, G – 14, Pts – 16, +/- 30)

In March of 2009, the Boston Bruins swapped Martins Karsums and Matt Lashoff for Mark Recchi and a second-round pick. This Chiarelli move would prove to be a shrewd one, as Mark Recchi would play valuable top-six minutes en route to a Stanley Cup two years later and the pick would be packaged with other minor pieces in the above Seidenberg trade. Karsums and Lashoff would both fail to become full-time NHLers with the former eventually bolting to the KHL in 2010 and the latter mostly toiling in the AHL while bouncing around continents.

Mark Recchi signed two team-friendly, one-year deals with the Bruins during the 2009 and 2010 off-seasons. Under head coach Claude Julien, he was ultimately assigned to line 1b duty with non-other than current top-line players Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron forming a defensively sound combination that was able to contribute offensively. Aside from his on-ice contributions, Recchi had a profound effect on the team’s chemistry and locker room environment. Bergeron credits him with becoming the leader he is today. 

While his performance on the ice was limited in comparison to his previous achievements, he helped to set the tone for the 2011 Championship and the continued excellence demonstrated by the organization’s core players before riding off into the sunset with the Cup in his saddle.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

The Arms Race In The East, And How It Affects The Bruins

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer )


By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

 

With just days to go until the Trade Deadline, the dominos have already begun to fall. Teams have been gearing up for the great battle that is the Stanley Cups Playoffs. In the West, we’ve seen a few moves to bolster some already strong roster. The Canucks went out and acquired Tyler Toffoli, the Jets nabbed Dylan Demelo from Ottawa and Vegas added Alec Martinez. But the biggest story as of now has been the massive arms race that’s been shaping up the in the Bruins’ Conference.

On February 5th, the arms race began and has already paid dividends for the teams involved. The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked it all off when they fixed two of their biggest issue, toughness and backup goaltending. They received that aid in the form of Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell from LA. In doing so, they gave up young forward Trevor Moore and a pair of 3rd rounders (one of which has the chance to bump up to a 2nd if conditions are met). The two have fit right in, Jack Campbell is 3-0-1 between the pipes and Clifford has added nice grit in their bottom-six.

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 23: Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker (16) screens Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) on the power play during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Minnesota Wild on November 23, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

( Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

A few days later, we saw the always active Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburg Penguins find a replacement for the injured Jake Guentzel when they acquired Jason Zucker from the Wild. Minnesota received a nice haul for the forward with a 2020 1st round pick, Calen Addison (a top prospect in Pittsburgh’s system) and the struggling Alex Galchenyuk. Zucker has been awesome since sporting the Penguins’ colors and has three goals and an assist in four games.

After losing Adam Pelech to injury, the New York Islanders shored up their defense and gave veteran Andy Greene a new home, sending a 2nd rounder and Dave Quenneville to the New Jersey Devils. Greene has helped off the bat, contributing an assist in his first game. The hottest team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning, made a big splash with the aforementioned Devils when they acquired Blake Coleman for the big package of Nolan Foote and a 1st round pick. And just recently, the Capitals added the physical Brendon Dillon from the Sharks for a 2nd and 3rd rounder.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

So with three of the four top teams in the East (as well as two contenders) all making moves, it’s crucial the Bruins don’t fall behind. The acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson last season proved that when moves are made right, they have huge pay-offs. The Bruins yet again need to make a move to keep up, and that move needs to be for some help upfront.

With Tyler Toffoli recently dealt to the Canucks, that leaves one less option for Boston to add, so what’s left? For guys that can play in the top-six, we have Chris Kreider, Mike Hoffman, and my personal favorite, Kyle Palmieri. As we’ve seen from the trades already made, the prices for impact players are as high as they’ve ever been. You’d have to think that the three listed would go for a 1st rounder, plus a variety of players, prospects, and picks.

If the Bruins choose to balk at those prices, some second-tier options would be the likes of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Josh Anderson, Ondrej Kase a the duo of Predators in Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith. I’d assume the baseline for these players would be similar to the price the Bruins paid for Marcus Johansson at last year’s deadline, a 2nd rounder plus a sweetener. Some help in the bottom-six (which really shouldn’t be a priority) could have options like Vladislav Namestnikov, Derek Grant, Barclay Goodrow, Wayne Simmonds or maybe even Joe Thornton. Much of the East has already made improvements so Boston, you’re up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at New York: 2/16/20

Image result for bruins rangers madison square garden 2019

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: New York Rangers

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

Bjork – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Goalies

Halak

Rask

New York’s Lineup

Forwards

Kreider – Zibanejad – Buchnevich

Panarin – Strome – Fast

Di Giuseppe – Chytil – Kakko

Lemieux – McKegg – Howden

Defense

Skjei – Trouba

Staal – Smith

Lindgren – Fox

Goalies

Georgiev

Lundqvist

First Period

After a feeling-out process to start the game, things got going when Brad Marchand and former Bruins prospect, Ryan Lindgren found themselves in a scrum in front of the Rangers bench. Lindgren sat for two minutes for roughing as a result – giving the Bruins the first power play of the game with 8:29 remaining. Despite a few good chances, the Bruins couldn’t get one past Alexandar Georgiev.

It appeared the game was going to be scoreless heading into intermission, but a series of bounces following a shot from Charlie McAvoy sent the puck over Georgiev and in.

The goal was originally credited to Chris Wagner, but it was eventually changed to Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy’s third goal of the season was unassisted with 42 seconds remaining in the period. A pretty even period overall ended with an 11-9 advantage in shots on goal for the Bruins.

Score: 1-0 Boston

Second Period

The Bruins held an early advantage in shots, 5-1 through the first five minutes of the period. Things got interesting when David Krejci inadvertently high-sticked Lindgren and drew blood, warranting a four-minute power play for the Rangers as a result. The Bruins managed to kill it off and maintain their lead.

A big scrum in front of the Rangers net and some cross-checking led to Marchand sitting for two minutes. It didn’t hurt the Bruins much, as Charlie Coyle forced a turnover at the defensive blue line on the penalty kill and made no mistake in burying it in shorthanded fashion. Coyle’s 14th goal of the season was unassisted with 1:18 remaining.

Mika Zibanejad took a tripping penalty with 27 seconds remaining. No one scored before time expired in the second period. The Bruins held a 13-8 shot advantage this time around, bringing the total to 24-17 in their favor. Jaroslav Halak was having a very solid game in net.

Score: 2-0 Boston

Third Period

A minute and thirty seconds of power play time remained for the Bruins to start the period. Ahead of the Karson Kuhlman interference penalty at 15:37, we saw a similar trend to the one we saw to start the second period, a 5-1 shot advantage. Halak made a big save on Ryan Strome early in the Rangers power play. The remainder of the power play was much calmer after that, and the Bruins killed it off.

Torey Krug took a tripping penalty with 10:55 left. Zibanejad made it hurt when he roped a wrist shot from the point off the post and in. It was a 2-1 game with 9:52 remaining. The screen from Pavel Buchnevich in front of Halak on the goal was key.

The goal gave the Rangers a very noticeable spark as a result. The crowd was into it and they generated a series of dangerous chances. The Bruins were forced into their own zone for much of the final five minutes of the game.

Georgiev was pulled for an extra attacker with around 1:30 remaining, and Rangers head coach David Quinn called a timeout with 35.5 seconds remaining. Patrice Bergeron put the game out of reach with 12.2 seconds remaining, following a nice interception in the neutral zone. Bergeron’s goal was his 26th of the season, Marchand’s helper was his 51st.

Shots on goal were even at nine in the third period, bringing the total to 34-26. Halak was instrumental in the win, making 25 saves. Things got a bit dicey at the end, but the Bruins came out with the win. Next up are the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday at Rogers Place at 8:30 PM ET. The Bruins are 37-11-12.

Final Score: 3-1 Boston

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 164 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Arizona at Boston: 2/8/19

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (33-10-12)

Away: Arizona Coyotes (27-22-7)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman

Kuraly-Coyle-Bjork

Blidh-Lindholm-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Moore

Grzelcyk-Lauzon

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Arizona’s Lineup

Forwards

Hall-Dvorak-Garland

Crouse-Stepan-Kessel

Keller-Schmaltz-Hinostroza

Soderberg-Richardson-Fischer

Defense

Chychrun-Goligoski

Oesterle-Hjalmarsson

Ness-Lyubuskin

Goalies

Hill

Raanta

First Period

Neither team had many chances in the early going as they appeared to be a bit slow perhaps because of the start time. Arizona started to get a bit of an attacking zone rhythm toward the midway point of the period but the Bruins did a good job limiting their high danger chances. The Coyotes would pick up the game’s first power play as Charlie McAvoy was called for hooking with about 11 minutes left in the period. The B’s killed off the penalty as Tuukka Rask made a number of big saves to keep the game scoreless.

The Bruins got a few chances past the midway point but nothing came of it. Boston would get an opportunity on the man advantage with under six minutes to go in the period. The Coyotes killed off the power play as the B’s failed to get any sort of momentum. The Bruins were called for a high stick late in the period as Arizona got another chance to take a lead. The Coyotes were unable to find the back of the net as the Bruins continued to be strong defensively. Almost immediately after Jeremy Lauzon came out of the box he was called for a match penalty on a hit to the head. Boston killed off the remainder of the period with the Coyotes still having 4:40 on the power play.

Score: Tied 0-0

Second Period

The Coyotes finally drew first blood as Phil Kessel fired a loose puck past Rask with about 75 seconds left on the power play.

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The Bruins killed off the remainder of the penalty and immediately following it Lawson Crouse was called for roughing, giving Boston an opportunity to tie the game. Charlie Coyle tied it just after the penalty expired as McAvoy found him in front with a great feed.

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The power play goal seemed to reinvigorate the Bruins as the continued to get chances in the attacking zone. The B’s picked up their third power play of the afternoon as Brad Richardson was called for interference with eight minutes remaining in the period. Immediately the Bruins took the lead as Patrice Bergeron tipped in a slap pass from David Pastrnak.

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Chris Wagner was able to draw another penalty on a strong drive to the net, giving the Bruins a chance to widen their lead with about six minutes left in the period. Jake DeBrusk extended the lead after he tipped in a shot from Pastrnak less than a minute into the power play.

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The Bruins continued to absolutely dominate the Coyotes in their own zone getting chance after chance and doing a tremendous job keeping possession of the puck.

Score: 3-1 Bruins

Third Period

Jakob Chychrun fired home a loose puck just seconds into the period as the Coyotes drew within one.

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The Bruins had a good push after the goal as they tried to find their game again after a successful second period. Arizona responded with a couple solid shifts in the offensive zone as they looked for the tying goal. Both teams started to take chances as the desperation began to set in. The B’s continued to have some tremendous scoring chances but were unable to extend their lead.

The Coyotes pushed hard for the tying goal in the closing moments of the game and pulled their goalie with about 1:40 to play. Coyle made it two on the day with an empty net goal with 48 seconds to go to ice it for the Bruins.

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Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Coyle

Second Star: Rask

Third Star: Pastrnak

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Karson Kuhlman’s Position On The Bruins

(Photo Credit: AP Photo / Winslow Townson)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

When Don Sweeney took over as General Manager of the Boston Bruins, one item on his to-do list was to send his scouts to a relatively untapped market.  Historically, American college hockey took a backseat to leagues like Canada’s Ontario Hockey League, Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, and Sweden’s Elite Swedish League.  Draft-eligible players found themselves forgoing college hockey and playing in these leagues because that’s where the competition was.  Over the last seven or eight years, though, American college hockey has attracted more stars, and NHL teams have noticed.

Don Sweeney played at Harvard University from 1984-1988.  He is familiar with the talent in the college hockey system, which explains his vested interest.  Some of his recent draft picks have even come from Boston University, University of Denver, and the University of Wisconsin.  Moreover, he’s made sure his scouts are also looking for players who weren’t drafted in June and invite them to training camp.  One player in particular who fits this situation is Karson Kuhlman.

The Esko, Minnesota native played his college hockey 20 minutes northeast of his hometown at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.  Karson was awarded captain his senior year and posted a modest 80 points and an impressive plus-47 rating in 166 games for the Bulldogs.  He and his teammates won the franchise’s second National Championship in 2017-18.  Karson was named MVP of the Frozen Four and scored a goal and an assist in the title game.  Kuhlman’s style of play fits the Bruins style perfectly.  He is a smaller center, with great hands, a lethal shot, and the ability to lead on and off the ice.

Unfortunately, Kuhlman was not drafted during his eligibility year in 2014.  He was invited to two training camps by the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens.  Neither team saw enough to sign him.  Thankfully, his hometown roots made him a rememberable name to another Minnesota Native with Bruin ties.  Jamie Langenbrunner, former NHL right-winger, and current Bruins player development coach, knew Kuhlman before the NHL teams caught on.  Langenbrunner has long been impressed by Kuhlman’s “attention to detail. He’s a kid that plays a pro-style game in the way he positions himself, uses his body, gets pucks out on walls.

The Bruins invited Kuhlman to their 2017 development camp to see what Langenbrunner had advocated.  He left the Bruins without a deal, but they kept a keen eye on him.  Following his senior year, the Bruins signed Kuhlman to a 2-year, $1.5M contract, and he reported directly to Providence.  He would only play in three games, notching two assists for the baby Bruins.  The following year, he played through the end of January for the Bruins’ AHL farm team and received the call up to the Boston Bruins when one of their star players injured himself.

David Pastrnak slipped on ice in the Boston streets and injured his thumb.  This created an empty roster spot, which Kuhlman was called to fill.  He joined the Bruins on their west coast road trip and lit the lamp in his second career NHL game.

He would play in nine more regular-season games and made the playoff roster.  He played through game one of the Columbus series and was eventually scratched for the veteran David Backes.  Kuhlman would watch the Bruins from the ninth floor until game six of the Stanley Cup finals.  Similar to his time in Minnesota, Kuhlman shined on the team’s biggest stage.

Both the Stanley Cup goal and the NCAA Championship goal featured Kuhlman’s lethal shot.  He has immense power and accuracy from most areas of the offensive zone, and both goals are evidence of that.  His willingness to shoot the puck in any spot of the offensive zone will pay dividends for his style of play in the long run.

The 24-year old was set to make a lasting impact on the Bruins second line at the beginning of the 2019 regular season.  He formed great chemistry with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci right off the bat.  The Bruins and its fanbase were hopeful they found the top-six winger they’d been longing for.  He was averaging nearly 13 minutes a game through the first eight games in October until he suffered an unfortunate injury.

It wouldn’t be until January 3, 2020, that Kuhlman would return to the ice.  He was sent to Providence for a conditioning stint to get his legs back and up to game speed.  Once again, Kuhlman didn’t skip a beat and notched three points in four games, one of which was an impressive score.

The Bruins finally called up Kuhlman on January 16, 2020, against the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he set up two Bruin goals.  Karson’s call up is also interesting timing.  The Bruins had just sent down Brett Ritchie and are still looking for the top-six winger that’s plagued them for years.  Kuhlman’s skill is undeniable, but is he the answer for Krejci’s wing?

That is still to be determined.  He has yet to play a full season as a top-six forward.  He certainly fits the mold of what the Bruins search for in players.  He’s versatile, leads by example, and plays on both ends of the ice.  He even throws his body around quite well for a sub-6-foot forward. Karson has already earned the trust of his coaches and the organization, which could yield significant benefits in the future.

Even if he doesn’t answer the Bruins hole on the second line, he would fit nicely with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle on the third line.  That line combination would be a high-speed, hard-hitting, skillful third unit to counter the league’s top counterparts.  Karson is a mainstay on this Bruins roster, and time will tell what line is best for him and the franchise.

Check out this weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 163 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!! 

Boston Bruins Week In Review Jan 6th-12th

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders

(Photo Credit:Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

There we go, THAT’S Bruins hockey. After a brutal stretch of hockey that saw the Bs go 4-5-6, the Black and Gold are back to their winning ways. Here’s everything you missed from this week’s action.

Jan 7 Boston Bruins @ Nashville Predators

The Bruins were able to acquire some help for their trip to Nashville to face the Predators. No, it was not Tyler Toffoli or Chris Kreider, but it was actually a the Bruins’ moms. This was the Predator’s first game after parting ways with Peter Laviolette, so the Preds were certainly going to bring their A-game with new coach (and former Devils’ coach) John Hynes. 

The first period started off with a bang as the NHL’s leading goal scorer David Pastrnak came down the wing and blew a shot past Pekka Rinne just 1:36 into the game to give the Bruins the lead. The Bs continued their strong play throughout the period, testing Rinne for the full 20 minutes. A good period from top to bottom for the Bruins, where they were able to outshoot the Preds 13-8.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Just a minute into the second period it seemed the Predators scored after a bizarre play. Charlie McAvoy was knocked into the net, taking it off its pegs, while Nick Bonino proceeded to put the puck in the net. After it was originally called a good goal (because the puck would’ve gone in regardless of the net being off) it was then called back due to the Pred’s Rocco Grimaldi causing McAvoy to knock off the net. Confusing, I know. At the 11:39 mark, Danton Heinen finished off a pretty passing play from Charlie Coyle and Matt Grzelyck with a rip from the slot, making it 2-0 Bruins. Nashville finally got their goal back after Filip Forsberg converted on a five on three PP for the Preds. Late in the period, Boston was able to regain their two-goal lead after Patrice Bergeron finished a nice feed from Jake Debrusk on the powerplay.

The Bs nearly added yet another goal seconds into the third, but Pekka Rinne shut the door on the top line. It wasn’t long after that chance when the Bruins did tack on yet another goal when a Par Lindholm shot went in off of Chris Wagner in front. You could tell it just wasn’t Nashville’s night after Tuukka Rask STONED Viktor Arvidsson midway through the third. Nashville found a little life late after pulling within two on the powerplay, but it was all for not after a David Krejci empty netter and a late Charlie Coyle goal.

Jan 9 Winnipeg Jets @ Boston Bruins

The moms made the trip back to Boston with the team and it paid dividends in a back-and-forth game against the Jets. We aren’t going to mention the 2015 draft, at all, but the 17th overall pick Kyle Connor put Winnipeg on the board first after dipsy-doodling past Torey Krug and roofing one on Jaroslav Halak. A good shift by the second line and a semi-break for Chris Wagner both amounted to nothing, so the Bs remained without a goal. That was until the duo of Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom connected with David Pastrnak in the slot to tie the game. After a great play from David Backes, Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle wouldn’t go, the period closed, knotted at one. 

Exactly six minutes into the second, the Jets were able to retake the lead on the powerplay after Andrew Copp collected his 7th goal of the season. That lead didn’t hold for much longer as who but the league’s leading goal scorer, David Pastrnak, sent an absolute rocket past Laurent Brossoit on the powerplay, 2-2. Chris Wagner was inches away from giving the B’s their first lead of the game as he rattled one off the post, but the game remained tied. That 2-2 tie wouldn’t last the period as Jake Debrusk came in on a breakaway and buried one past Laurent Brossoit with 1:11 left. What should’ve been an easy final minute to kill off for the Bs, ended up being the opportunity for the Jets to tie it up,  when Neil Pionk scored on the powerplay with just seconds left on the clock

NHL: Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

After about eight minutes of stalemate, the Jets were able to regain their lead after Mark Schiefele banked a shot in off of Jaroslav Halak. When Jake Debrusk took advantage of a poor change from the Jets by driving to the net, David Krejci collected the rebound and fed Pasta in front of the net, queuing the hats to start flying down from the rafters. If you thought you had time to run to the bathroom before the lamp was lit once again, you missed the Bs take the lead. Just 30 seconds after the tying goal, Krejci won a faceoff clean to Matt Grzelyck, who fed McAvoy for a one-timer that Jake Debrusk tipped in, and topped it off with a beautiful celly. That proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Jets, as they were not able to muster up anything to come back.

Jan 11 Boston Bruins @ New York Islanders

The mom-less Bruins headed to New York for their next game with a couple of players hitting milestones along the way (Torey Krug and Sean Kuraly playing their 500th and 200th games respectively). It was all Islanders early in this game, with Tuukka Rask forced to make save after save until the Isles were able to breakthrough. Scott Mayfield’s shot from the point snuck past Rask, giving New York the lead. Rask continued to battle after a bad period from the Bs and made 13 saves in the first. 

A couple big saves by Rask opened the second period until the Bruins were able to knot the game up at one.  A clean breakout led to Charlie McAvoy joining the rush, and the ensuing traffic in front of the net lead to Jake Debrusk’s equalizer. The rest of the period showcased the two goaltenders battling it out, and the game continued into the third, tied 1-1. 

That was until a seeing eye shot from John Moore found its way through Semyon Varlamov to give the Bruins their first lead of the night. That, unfortunately, didn’t silence Barclays Center for too long after Josh Bailey fed Matthew Barzal in front, who tucked it past Rask to tie the game. Some big saves from both Varlamov (namely two on David Krejci) and Rask sent the game into OT.

The Bruins were gifted a powerplay early into OT after Brock Nelson tripped up Brad Marchand, and that ended up being the demise for the Isles. “Mr. Perfect” Patrice Bergeron was able to collect a pass from Torey Krug in the slot, looked off the defense and wrist a shot past Varlamov to give the Bs the victory and complete the 3-0 week.

Roster/Injury News

  • Zdeno Chara missed the Bruins’ game in Winnipeg due to a jaw injury but played their next game in New York with no problem.
  • Joakim Nordstrom missed the game against the Predators due to an illness but has played in every game since.
  • Matt Grzelcyk left the game against the Islanders early and never returned. He played the next game in Philly.

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders

(Photo Credit:Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

My Three Stars of the Week 

A lot of contenders for this week’s honors. A few guys who just missed the cut were Danton Heinen (one goal, two assists, +3 rating), Charlie Coyle (one goal, two assists, +4 rating) and a trio of defensemen (Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, and Matt Grzelyck) who all picked up three assists in the week.

  1. Jake Debrusk

The second line has regained life and so has Debrusk. The Edmonton native had a point in every game and ended with a statline of three goals, two assists, and a +3 rating. 

  1. David Pastrnak

The Bs’ main dish of choice this week was Pasta, who put up four goals in three games. His hockey IQ was on full display and he showed why he’s leading the league in goals.

  1. Tuukka Rask

Take that Rask haters. Tuukka was incredible this week, going 2-0 with a .944 save percentage and a sub 2.00 goals allowed average. He single handedly kept the Bruins in both games and without him, there was not a chance the Bruins go 3-0.

Play of the Week – David Pastrnak Goal

Gotta be this shot by Pastrnak. The video would be a whole lot better with sound.

Final Notes

  • Anders Bjork has made the 2nd line FAR more dynamic. While he only had one point, it was clear his playmaking ability gelled very well with Jake Debrusk and David Krejci. I think we’ll see a big uptick in points from the Notre Dame product
  • Joakim Nordstrom took a few shifts next to Krejci and Debrusk despite Bjork’s solid play. I’d hope that doesn’t continue to happen. 
  • Tuukka Rask is awesome.
  • Danton Heinen is getting his confidence back. He looked good this week, making skill and power moves while tacking on three points in the process. 
  • This big week proved that the Bruins can take a little more time to find the winger they need. I still think they need some help in the middle-six, but Bjork, Heinen and Debrusk’s play this week proved the Bruins still have a lot to work with on their roster.
  • Oh, and Pekka Rinne has more goals than Charlie McAvoy, that is all.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Game Recap 1/13/20 | Bruins Fall In Shootout Vs. Flyers, 6-5

BradImage result for boston bruins vs philadelphia flyers"(Photo Credits: Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

In a disappointing end that saw the game go to a shootout, the Boston Bruins fell to the Philadelphia Flyers as they let a three-goal lead slip through their hands tonight.

Game Recap

Boston came into Philadelphia with a 3-0 game streak and wasted no time in the first few minutes of the first period. The Bruins saw productive shifts that saw more time down the Flyers zone. Boston would strike first as Anders Bjork opened up the scoreboard. Notching his 7th goal of the season, the 23-year-old winger would score off a bad giveaway on the Flyers’ end. With the momentum on the B’s side, Boston had another opportunity as they went on the power-play on a tripping call to Patrice Bergeron.

In a beautiful set-up, Bruins winger  Charlie Coyle connected with Danton Heinen, who was able to send the puck up to a charging David Krejci. Skating with tremendous speed, the 33-year-old winger was able to tuck one in past Carter Hart, making the score 2-0. That goal would mark the 14th game in a row the Bruins scored on the power-play. The Flyers, however, would answer back as Patrice Bergeron was called on a double minor. At 18:22 Kevin Hayes would score on a slap shot that saw the puck go behind Jaroslav Halak, making it his 14th goal of the season.

SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-14, PHI-12

SCORE: BOS-2, PHI-1

The second period proved to be quite the busy one for both teams as six goals were recorded. Seconds into the period,  David Pastrnak would score off a backhand, making it 3-1. Not to be outdone, the Flyers would quickly answer back as Travis Sanheim scored his 6th of the season. As Philly looked to close the gap and stay within one, Boston had other plans. At 4:50, Charlie Coyle sent the puck behind the Flyers net, making it 4-2.  David Krejci would net his second of the night as he sent a snapshot past Hart,  adding some cushion to the score, making it 5-2.

As things looked to turn around, at 13:12, the Flyers’ Sean Couturier would slide one right between the pads of Jaroslav Halak, making it 5-3. Continuing with the momentum, Philly again scored and would be within one. Flyers’ center Connor Bunnaman had his first goal of the season (off a deflection) making it 5-4.

SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-6, PHI-15

SCORE: BOS-5, PHI-4

Boston’s Brad Marchand would draw an interference penalty seconds into the third period but they were unable to take advantage. In a physical, close game, the period saw both teams grind out hits as a scrum broke out at around the seven-minute mark. Torey Krug and Joel Farabee would be charged with a penalty. The Flyers’ Travis Sanheim netted his second goal of the game, tying it 5-5.

In the last minute, Boston would furiously hit the Flyers’ net but was unable to connect as the game went into overtime. Unfortunately, both teams were unable to score amid multiple scoring chances. Much like their first meeting, the game would go to a shootout. The Flyers previously won 3-2 back in November. Travis Konecny would score the  lone goal, and unfortunately, Brad Marchand would overskate the puck, grazing it enough to move it-canceling out the play that resulted in  a “no goal.” In the second meeting of the season, Philly would once again defeat the Bruins in the dreaded shootout.

FINAL SCORE/ SO: BOS-5, PHI-6

TOTAL SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-31, PHI-39

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BRUINS: Tomorrow, January 14th against Columbus Blue Jackets, with puck drop at 7:00 pm, Nationwide Arena

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

 

 

 

Game Recap | Boston Bruins Defeat Nashville Predators 6-2

Image result for boston Bruins vs nashville predators"(Photo Credits: Getty Images/ John Russell)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on  Twitter @pastagrl88

There’s nothing like playing in front of family and for many of the Bruins, they had the opportunity to showcase in front of one of the most important people in their lives. Serving as their life-long cheerleaders, many of the players’ mothers were in attendance tonight as part of the annual Moms Trip that started on Monday.  With the group watching their sons and brothers on the ice, the Bruins defeated Nashville, breaking their three-game losing slump.

GAME RECAP

In front of a loud “Smashville” crowd and with new coach John Hynes behind the Nashville bench,  the Black and Gold came out of the gates and it didn’t take long for the Bruins to get on board. Early in the first period, the red-hot David Pastrnak slapped his 32nd goal past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne to make the score 1-0.

SCORE: BOS-1, NSH-0

SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-13, NSH-8

Image result for boston bruins vs nashville predators"(Photo Credits: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

An interesting start to second saw the hockey gods smile on Boston as a potential goal was waved off for the Predators. As officials reviewed the play (twice), it was determined there was no goal as Nashville made contact with defenseman Charlie McAvoy that caused him to dislodge the net prior to the puck going in.

Nashville found themselves down  Boston zone for a good portion of the period as they peppered Tuukka Rask, forcing the Bruins to continue to keep bouncing pucks from going in. The Preds continued to outshoot Boston, however, it would be the boys in Black and Gold that would net one in Nashville’s goal. With a quick pass from Matt Grzelcyk, Danton Heinen would score his seventh of the season at 8:21 into the second.

The Predators would get on board on a 5-on-3 as Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk both went to the penalty box. Filip Forsberg would score his 15th goal of the season.  With minutes left in the period and with Boston on the power-play, the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron would net his 18th of the season, making the score 3-1.

SCORE: BOS-3, NSH-1

SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS- 26 NSH-24

Image result for boston bruins vs nashville predators"(Photo Credits: USA Today Sports/ Christopher Hanewinckel)

Minutes into the third period, Boston would once again score as Chris Wagner was nudged into the Nashville net, sending the puck past Rinne. He would net his fourth of the season. Zdeno Chara, who had recent jaw surgery, dropped gloves with Nashville’s Yakov Trenin (his first NHL career fight) after a hit on McAvoy, leading the Bruins to the kill. The Preds would once again find themselves with a 5-on-3 advantage but were unable to score.

With a little over a minute left, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund would score on the power-play, making it 4-2.  David Krejci would score on an empty net at the 54-second mark. Charlie Coyle would add salt to the wound as he tapped the puck in the net, winning in regulation.

Boston improves to 25-8-11 while Nashville is 19-16. The Bruins lead the Atlantic Division and are second in the league; Nashville sits at sixth place in the Central Division.

FINAL SCORE: BOS-6, NSH-2

TOTAL SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-36 NSH-30

WHAT’S NEXT:  Thursday, January 9th with puck drop @ 7:00 pm vs. Winnipeg Jets. NESN, TVAS

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 161 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Report: Bruins Interested in Kovalchuk

( Photo Credit: David Kirouac/ Icon Sportswire )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Could the recent release of a former-NHL All-Star solve the Bruins top-six winger issue?

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At first glance, most Bruins fans want nothing to do with the 36-year-old aging winger. But, dig a little deeper and his services could be beneficial for the remainder of the year.

Kovalchuk is a former number one overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. The Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets, selected the Russian forward with the intent he’d be their franchise player. Kovalchuk averaged 1.03 points in eight years with the Thrashers. He scored 41 goals in his third season with the Thrashers, which yielded him (along with Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla) the Maurice Richard Trophy (most goals in a season).

In his final contract year with the Thrashers, he was traded to the Devils in a massive deal. The Devils and Kovalchuk agreed to a record-breaking 15-year, $100 million deal. Unfortunately for New Jersey and its fans, he only played the first four years of the deal before leaving for the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia (KHL) to be closer to his family. When Kovalchuk left the NHL, his contract was terminated and he was placed on the voluntary retirement list. The Devils maintained his NHL rights until he turned 35, which was April 15, 2018.

The KHL is notorious for plucking Russian-born NHL stars to play in their homeland. Players like Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk have left the NHL to play in Russia’s top hockey league because they’re offered the highest salaries to represent their country in their native league. Kovalchuk continued his torrid 1.08 points per game pace in 5 years with the KHL, but the NHL itch to win a Stanley Cup was still present for Ilya.

When the news broke that Kovalchuk wanted to return to the NHL in 2018, the Bruins were considered a front-running destination. The Bruins were coming off an unsatisfying playoff run, getting steamrolled by the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 4-1 series loss. The Bruins’ Achilles heel all playoffs was their lack of scoring depth, so the interest in the former 50-goal scorer was warranted. Kovalchuk made it abundantly clear he wanted to sign with a Stanley Cup team on a longer-term deal. Don Sweeney (current Bruins General Manager) could not dish out the money and term that Kovalchuk sought. The Los Angeles Kings won the Kovalchuk sweepstakes days before the July 1 free agency period.

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The Kings won Lord’s Stanley Cup twice in the past 10 years, so they definitely had the championship pedigree. However, the Kings became too old and injury-prone over the last two years and couldn’t find their groove. They missed the playoffs last year, finishing 30th out of the 31 teams and recently fired their head coach. Kovalchuk’s cap hit of $6.25 million per year suddenly became too costly for a rebuilding franchise. The Kings cut Kovalchuk on December 9th, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. He hasn’t played for the Kings since November 9th but is still vying for the Stanley Cup.

The Bruins, coincidentally, are still searching for a formidable top-six winger. They have tried numerous options such as Charlie Coyle, Brett Ritchie, and Anders Bjork. Coyle was acquired from the Minnesota Wild ahead of last year’s trade deadline to solidify their third-line center position. Bjork hasn’t been able to sustain a full year yet due to injuries and is still adapting to the NHL play. Brett Ritchie has 4 points in 19 games, which is nowhere close to a proper top six stat line. Kovalchuk’s current season stat line is similar to Ritchie’s, but he has the history of scoring and the numbers to back him. In nine seasons, he’s surpassed 30 goals in his 13-year career.

Kovalchuk and his agent have made it clear he is “OK” with signing a league-minimum deal of $700K. He would be an extremely low risk, high reward situation for the Bruins for even just the remainder of the year. His size (6’4 222-pounds) and prolific scoring would be beneficial to the Bruins offense, and especially to David Krejci. Krejci has been the most affected by the Bruins inability to find a top-six winger. He hasn’t had a capable set of wingers since Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. The move could also allow Cassidy to shift Pastrnak down to Krejci, where he’s found success this season.

The Bruins would have to create cap space in order to make this move. Waiving Brett Ritchie would be the most logical move, which would create $1 million in cap space. Ritchie has not panned out in the Bruins plans as of late and could use some AHL time to find his game.

The other question is, how Kovalchuk would fit into the Bruins locker room? Team chemistry is key in any NHL locker room. Bruins fans are privy to this as they’ve seen the likes of Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Seguin traded due to lack of chemistry and other team-related issues. The hope is the Bruins have a strong enough locker room bond because of their leaders like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci.

If the Bruins did sign Kovalchuk, their initial line combinations could be:

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kovalchuk

Bjork – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Backes

These lines create flexibility for Cassidy and line chemistry to develop. Kovalchuk would also immediately slot into a power-play role, where has always found success, even in LA.

The Bruins top need has been a capable top-six forward. Bruins management has been scouring NHL rosters for the void that has plagued them for the past few seasons and playoffs. They have done their due diligence, even as far as inquiring on Taylor Hall.

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It’s clear Sweeney does not want to take the Dave Dombrowski approach and sacrifice his prospects and payroll for a likely rental. Kovalchuk, though a short-term solution, presents a cost-effective quick fix and could pay dividends to come playoff time. The Bruins would not need to trade a budding young star in order to acquire Ilya. The Bruins should certainly kick the tires on Kovalchuk and identify what it would take to bring him to Boston for the remainder of the year.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 158 that we recorded on 12-16-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!